Taking a health perspective on roller derby: A qualitative exploration of women’s experiences
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Scullion, J. and Bulley, C. (2022) 'Taking a health perspective on roller derby: A qualitative exploration of women’s experiences', Women, 2(1), pp. 15-28.
Although far fewer women exercise regularly than men, one women-dominated sport growing in popularity internationally is roller derby. A limited number of predominantly US-based and qualitative studies have explored roller derby. This Scotland-based qualitative study explored reasons for women starting, continuing, and stopping participation in roller derby in order to inform people involved in promoting physical activity for health benefits. Semi-structured interviews with six participants from a Scottish women’s roller derby league were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis generated five super-ordinate themes. Most participants learned about roller derby from watching the sport on film, attending a bout (game), or word of mouth. The main motivators and benefits of participating in this sport were found to be challenge, enjoyment, increased confidence, health benefits, and motivation to exercise. Participants were empowered by involvement and motivated by community, team spirit, and support to develop. Despite high commitment, some women could not sustain team involvement due to barriers such as injury, changing life roles, and conflicting commitments—a lack of support was described when this happened. Greater inclusivity is needed to enable changing levels of participation as women’s commitments change, to facilitate ongoing health benefits and inspire others.